TrackWorthy - 2019 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 (1)

2019 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman: Prince Edward County Road Trip

by Michael Taylor (@trackworthy),

TrackWorthy - 2019 MINI John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 (1)
We are big fans of the level of enthusiasm that emanates from all of the Minis in the John Cooper Works lineup. The cars’ crisp handling, energetic performance, ample style and personality should put a smile on any driver’s face when behind the wheel of these go-kart-like cars. The John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4 is no exception. It is the least mini-sized in the range (it is the largest Mini ever produced) and is classified as a compact Sport Utility Vehicle. We decided to take the 2019 Mini JCW Countryman on a five-hundred kilometre road trip from Toronto to picturesque Prince Edward County, then to a Canadian Superbike motorcycle race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and finally back to Toronto to find out how well the Countryman performs out in the country.

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2019 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS COUNTRYMAN ALL4

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As stated by Mini, the John Cooper Works lineup represents the most powerful models in the range. John Cooper Works models are powered by racing-tuned engines and are ‘Mini thrill, maximized.’ John Cooper and his father, Charles Cooper, started the Cooper Car Company in Surrey, England in 1946 to build race cars. Their Mini Cooper dominated rally racing and their open wheel cars won two Formula one drivers Championships in 1959 and 1960.

Our 3,653 pound five-door JCW Countryman is powered by an inline 4 cylinder 2.0 litre turbocharged engine. Power is sent to the Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system, which is standard in the Countryman and Clubman. In slippery road conditions torque is transferred to the axle with most traction. To reduce understeer the system monitors wheel slip, throttle position, vehicle dynamics and steering angle. Zero to 100 km/h is achieved in 6.5 seconds, but the acceleration feels faster because of the performance-focused personality of the John Cooper Works cars.

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2019 MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS LINEUP

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FIRST STOP – DRAKE DEVONSHIRE

The Drake Devonshire is a small, boutique hotel nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, about 200 kilometers east of Toronto. This all-season gem has just 13 rooms and one of the finest dining rooms in Prince Edward County, serving food sourced from local farmers and wines from the local wineries. The Drake Devonshire is one of the Drake Hotels Properties, which also includes The Drake Hotel on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto.

The Drake Devonshire started life as The Wellington Iron Foundry, built in 1860. At the end of the nineteenth century it was transformed into a private home. It changed hands several times in the following decades and eventually became the Devonshire Inn On The Lake, a bed and breakfast. The property was purchased by Drake Hotel Properties and renamed the Drake Devonshire Inn in 2012. Extensive renovations were carried out on the guest rooms and throughout the property. A dining room and outdoor patio were added overlooking the lake. The Drake Devonshire Inn celebrated its grand reopening in 2015.

What the hotel might lack in big-hotel facilities—there is no gym, pool or waterfront sports—it makes up for in style, coziness, and cuisine. Breakfast, brunch or lunch outside on the terrace or dinner inside the vibrant dining room are to be savored. Meals at the Drake Devonshire are worth the drive to Wellington. The atmosphere that has been carefully created for visiting guests has an instant positive impact on its diners.

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The Mini Countryman is the Preferred Vehicle of the Drake Devonshire. Guests can be shuttled around the small lakeside village of Wellington in the spacious five passenger vehicle. As those at the Drake will tell you, the Mini Countryman and the Drake Devonshire are both great for weekend getaways.


SECOND STOP – LONG DOG VINEYARD & WINERY

From the Drake Devonshire we drove east for about half an hour to the Long Dog Vineyard and Winery. There are more than three-dozen wineries in Prince Edward County. Visiting any one of these wineries usually involves spending some time in a tasting room, many of which are in rustic old barns, adding to the flavor of the experience.

As is the case with many of the wineries, Long Dog specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are common in this lake region. Long Dog, which is run by James Lahti, claims to have the first vines planted in the area in 1999. Since then, they have planted more than 25,000 vines on their twenty acres of land. They currently yield approximately 40,000 bottles of wine each season. In case you were wondering, yes, they love their dachshunds, hence, the name of the vineyard.

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The Mini JCW has a very large cargo area, especially with the rear seats folded. We’re not sure how many cases of wine will fit in there, but it would be fun to find out. Also very useful is the all-wheel drive. We encountered a lot of rain on our drive east, and so we welcomed the surefootedness of ALL4 at highway speed and once we got off-road onto very slippery and muddy terrain.

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THIRD STOP – CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORT PARK

Our next stop was Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), which is about 90 minutes west of Wellington. Built in 1961, CTMP is home to one of the fastest and most daunting race tracks in North America. Each year, more than half-a-million spectators flock to CTMP to take in a variety of top level racing series, including NASCAR trucks, IMSA sports cars, Canadian NASCAR Pinty’s stock cars, Pirelli World Challenge sports cars, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, the Canadian Touring Car Championship and the Nissan Micra Cup. We attended the MOPAR Canadian Superbike. Now in its 39th season, this is the premier motorcycle racing series in Canada. The star of the series is Brantford, Ontario native Jordan Szoke, who is the winningest rider in Canadian motorcycle racing history and one of the most successful motorcycle racers in the world. Szoke has an unprecedented twenty-three national titles in his twenty-four year career and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2015. He won this year’s championship riding his BMW S1000RR.

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With its red brake calipers, John Cooper Works badging and red accents around the grill and front quarter panel, our Mini JCW looked the part of weekend warrior parked in front of Szoke’s paddock at the race track.

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FINAL STOP – TORONTO

We ended our road trip with a very manageable one hour drive west to Toronto after what had been a great few days in our 2019 Mini John Cooper Works Countryman ALL4. The JCW Countryman offers the best of both worlds, accommodating growing families who require room for passengers and cargo area, but who still love a performance-oriented drive.

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The three distinct driving modes help to transform the car. The Sport Dynamic Setting improves throttle response, provides more direct steering, and firms up the handling when equipped with Dynamic Damper Control. Sport Dynamic also maximizes the sound effect emanating from the dual exhaust (which we love and could not get enough of). At the other end of the driving spectrum is the Green MINImalism Efficient Driving Setting. This setting eliminates the exhausts snap crackle and pop, softens the ride, and puts the car into maximum fuel efficiency mode, including adapting the climate control to its most efficient setting. Each time the car is started the default driving mode is the Mid Balanced Setting, which is a happy medium between Sport and Green modes.

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Our Take

We love spending time with John Cooper Works Minis. The JCW lineup displays its outgoing personality and enthusiasm inside and out; from the colorful and stylized dash and instrument cluster to the great sounds that can be emitted from the tailpipe. If the goal of the JCW team was to offer a lineup of cars that energizes its drivers, they have succeeded. Anyone with a growing family can have their cake and eat it too; lots of room for kids, a dog, and cargo and lots of backroad driving fun when they car is less crowded. If you are at a stage in your life where the need for more space has to be balanced with the desire for a fun ride, the JCW Countryman could certainly be your solution to meet all of your driving needs.

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ARTICLE AND VIDEO © COPYRIGHT 2018 TRACKWORTHY GROUP LTD. PHOTOGRAPHS © COPYRIGHT 2018 TRACKWORTHY GROUP LTD. & GARY MAAVARA

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